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Entries from June 2019

Kindertrauma Funhouse

June 28th, 2019 · 12 Comments

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Child’s Play (2019)

June 26th, 2019 · 3 Comments

I’ve got a bunch of conflicting feelings about the new reimagining of CHILD’S PLAY. I loved the beginning of the movie, hated the middle and then somehow regained my original affection for the film’s gleefully bonkers ending. My most positive endorsements would be for BEAR McCREARY’s absolutely phenomenal score  (he’s batting a thousand after wowing recently with GODZILLA: KING OF THE MONSTERS) and MARK HAMILL’s wonderfully acute voiceover work as the killer doll. When these two combine their talents for a theme song, which plays over the closing credits, it’s truly sublime (I find myself longing for the soundtrack no matter my overall mixed feelings). In general the movie looks great too and the crisp, colorful cinematography does a persuasive job of harkening back to many a fright flick from the late eighties. I found myself sitting so securely on this summer coaster throughout its first half but damn, I really did fall out of the cart during a too long bubble of time at the midpoint and really had to scramble to climb back on board.

What most differentiates this take from the original mold is that Chucky the killer doll is no longer nuts due to a voodoo possession and is now a robot who was purposely programmed to cause havoc thanks to a disgruntled (and suicidal) factory worker.  This allows the story to stoke fears of technology out of control and taking over our daily lives but it also strangely adds a level of sympathy for the faulty doll. I haven’t felt so bad for a robot since HALEY JOEL OSMENT was abandoned in the forest by his mother in A.I. ARTIFICIAL INTELIGENCE (2001). I really loved getting to know this new childlike version of Chucky and found myself relating to him when his glitchy brain would confuse a roll of toilet paper for a science book. The poor guy is like a malfunctioning Casper the friendly ghost and I cared more about that than any of the film’s BLACK MIRROR-esque future fretting. I kept thinking about how Chucky was like an animal taken in and loved by new owners who can’t stop misbehaving due to no fault of its own (sort of like KRISTY McNICHOL’s wrenching dilemma in WHITE DOG). I also have to say Chucky’s eerie uncanny valley visual overhaul worked well with drumming up my sympathies.

Where the movie fails for me is on the script level in the human character department. GABRIEL BATEMAN is fine as Andy and has got an Elliot in E.T. thing going for him but I found all his friends annoying and AUBREY PLAZA (who rules in INGRID GOES WEST) comes off more like a sarcastic babysitter than a believable maternal figure (Maybe I’m just showing my age here though and that I should get used to adults acting like snarky teens). There’s a bit where Andy must hide a grisly trophy that Chucky has gifted him that zapped me out of the entire move. It’s played like a THREE’s COMPANY mix-up and it still irks my head to think about it because it could have been so much better simplified. The entire segment feels forced, and first draft clunky. I’ve also found out that for some reason I’m highly bothered by the juxtaposition of Christmas lights and watermelons (who knew?). After much thought, though I have to admit that my sudden distaste for the movie occurred directly after Chucky kills a cat so maybe on a subconscious level I was kicking back at that peeve for a spell and you might want to take my disdain with a grain of salt.

.Even though I’m also not a huge fan of drones being shoe-horned into modern remakes (see also POLTERGEIST), I did end up coming around to enjoy the gleeful mayhem in the film’s chaotic climax. I’m going to thank a fuzzy bear-like version of the killer doll who shows up for talking me down off the ledge with his mere presence. I really wish that I was able to have as much fun with this movie as others seem to be experiencing but I guess it just wasn’t in the cards for me. It does seem to be the type of thing I’ll give another chance in the future when I’m not so sensitive (truly, I recently watched INSIDE LLEWYN DAVIS and the constant cat peril within made it more nerve-rattling than SILENCE OF THE LAMBS for me). Full disclosure, I may have also been swayed by a pang of free-floating guilt for disloyally crossing original creator DON MANCINI’s invisible picket line even though I justified the act by using my REGAL ticket earnings to see it for free (I didn’t give them a cent, DON! I swear!)

I guess what I’m trying to say is don’t listen to me because I have too many issues to count so maybe go and decide for yourself. On some level I almost believe that it’s worth it for the score alone; just don’t tell my cats (or DON MANCINI) I said that.

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Tags: General Horror

Name That Trauma:: Aubrey T. on a Cabin Dwelling Dummy

June 24th, 2019 · 6 Comments



Hello! I’ve been trying to figure out this movie I saw maybe in college or high school about a group of teens who go to a cabin the woods. I don’t remember much about it but there is an evil ventriloquist dummy/puppet, made of wood. I seem to recall that Julian Sands owned the dummy/puppet, but I’ve looked through his IMDb page and can’t find anything even close to that. So, there is a Julian Sands-esque guy in it. At this point I might be conflating movies, but I also think the dummy might have granted wishes? Hoping this rings a bell for someone! Thank you!
–Aubrey

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Kindertrauma Funhouse

June 21st, 2019 · 9 Comments

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Ma (2019)

June 20th, 2019 · No Comments

The latest Blumhouse offering MA is a bit of an emotional pinball machine. It delivers some smart suspense, some genuine creeps and still finds time to be regularly hilarious (if you have a dark sense of humor) and strangely sad. I’m a big fan of horror character studies, revenge flicks and “person from hell” movies (FATAL ATTRACTION, THE HAND THAT ROCKS THE CRADLE, SINGLE WHITE FEMALE) and MA fits the bill on all accounts. It’s kind of like a multi-generational version of LUCKY McKEE’s MAY albeit more grounded and less stylized. By the end of the movie not every puzzle piece fits into place as tightly as I wanted them to but it’s a thoroughly entertaining ride nonetheless. I found it hard not to empathize with the title character even as she was wreaking havoc upon innocent people. There’s just something so cathartic about watching a person go full blown psycho about past grievances and both dreading and sadistically looking forward to the results (De PALMA’s CARRIE still stands as the greatest example of this). As much of this cinematic mousetrap is traceable and familiar, I’m happy to say MA brings a fair share of fresh themes and a uniquely uncomfortable tone to the table as well.

OCTAVIA SPENCER excels as Sue Ann/Ma, a role that seems tailor made for her. She’s subtle, straightforward and never over the top as a mature woman who is coaxed by an amiable group of underage teens to buy them alcohol. When Sue Ann recognizes one of the young folk as the child of her unrequited/abusive high school crush she offers up her basement as a safe place to party and casually integrates into an integral part of the gang’s clandestine activities. On the surface, her character’s increasingly demented behavior appears spurred by a cruel prank from her youth but on another level I think it’s much bigger than that. I almost get the sense that Sue Ann is raging against youth itself or at least the youth that she had lost to being an awkward outsider that never fit in. Witnessing a group of people getting along and having fun reminds her of the carefree life she was denied whether it was because of her gawkiness or because she was the lone black student in her school.

Basically no one is spared her wrath, not the man from her past that betrayed her, not the kids that symbolize all she missed out on and certainly not the boss that constantly berates her. We even come to find that she’s spitefully determined to make sure that her offspring is hammered into an equally unsatisfying existence. Ma is FOMO personified and brandishing very sharp teeth.

What saves Ma from being yet another obsessed stalker Lifetime movie is SCOTTY LANDES witty, aware script, TATE TAYLOR’s confident direction (he’s also great as the local cop) and most importantly, the cast. SPENCER, as mentioned, is gold in the title role but I can’t think of anyone in the cast who doesn’t deliver the goods and then some. JULIETTE LEWIS gets a surprisingly meaty part as a concerned mother and rather than being merely a scolding obstacle like in most teen movies, she’s the many shaded, grounding anchor of normalcy for the entire picture. ALLISON JANNEY and MISSI PYLE both play aggressively nightmarish people who practically beg to have horrible things happen to them and they both excel at their atrociousness. LUKE EVANS is impressive as well as the untrustworthy object of affection for Ma. Surprisingly I liked all the youngins too and each of them is given a chance to shine and have identifiable personalities of their own. I know folks usually don’t go to see horror movies for the acting but in this case it’s actually not a bad idea.

Although MA plays it mostly straight and its dark humor leans toward the situational, there’s an inescapable camp quality to it but I think you could say that about all of the loner revenge films mentioned previously as well. The film operates on several levels at once and can be taken in as seriously as the viewer desires. That said, the best way to view something like this is with a vocal audience in a movie theater or with intoxicated like-minded folks at home (don’t be surprised if you hear references to Ma’s line “Don’t make me drink alone” for the rest of your life).  Sure, I was left with a few questions and I desired one last twist that never came to fruition (and I could have used way more flashbacks to the eighties) but overall, I couldn’t help but get wrapped up in all the social disasters on display. As someone who’s roughly the same age as Ma it wasn’t hard to sympathize with her plight but I found it just as easy to feel akin to the group of teens looking for a safe place to congregate. Ultimately my favorite aspect of MA is that although it’s short lived, when things are going well, before the other shoe drops, it delivers the simple vicarious fun of partying and letting loose- at any age. MA has got her problems but who cares when she also knows the perfect time to break out “the robot” dance.

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Tags: General Horror

Name That Trauma:: Art on a Terrifying Old Woman

June 18th, 2019 · 3 Comments

Love the site, have been following for 12 years.  I am trying to find an early to mid 70s, like a made for TV production. I only remember one scene, and it was terrifying as a 5 year old to watch, and my school classmates agreed.  I think I saw it later in the early 80s.  What I remember as follows: Interior of In an old Victorian style house, a large social room. We see the back of an elderly woman sitting in chair, maybe knitting. A man and a woman (one might be her son or daughter) enters through the front door and sees the old woman in the chair. The couple tries to greet the old woman verbally with no response. They approach her,  put a hand on the old woman’s shoulder, she slowly turns to them, standing up and screams like a demon. The old woman has no pupils, only milky white eyes. The couple panics  and screams while the old woman runs past them and crashes out the large front  window in slow motion. She hits the ground outside and runs into the woods. I can remember hearing the crummy stock audio of glass crashing that does not match the visual.  Thanks for any idea of what film this might be in advance!

Best,
Art

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Kindertrauma Funhouse

June 14th, 2019 · 10 Comments

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Name That Trauma:: Giacomo on a Force Feeding Cartoon

June 12th, 2019 · 4 Comments

I was wondering if you are familiar with an educational cartoon that I saw during my gradeschool years (70s to 80s) that was about nutrition and hygiene that had an inflation scene in it. The film followed a number of characters with diet and hygiene issues and showed the pitfalls of each to the extreme.

The only one I remember vividly was a boy who was overweight and was always eating candy. He was sluggish and couldn’t keep up with his peers while running in PE and he had candy bars sticking out of his pockets. He gets invited by some sort of mad scientist to go to his candy factory for “just a taste”. Though he says he really shouldn’t, he agrees that “just a taste” would be ok.

Instantly, he is strapped to a chair and whisked away into the candy factory. A feeding tube is attached to his face which squirts pellet candies into his mouth and two robot hands grasp his jaws forcing him to chew. Humiliating music is played as the chair moves rapidly along a conveyer belt from station to station, where he is force-fed various sweets. His belly grows and grows, sticking out from under his shirt, to enormous proportions. I seem to recall seeing little robot hands squeezing his belly, sort of plumping up his fat almost as if they were tickling him.

Seeing this as a young child of probably 7 or 8 years old, this scene kinda traumatized me. It was more traumatic for me than the Violet scene in Willy Wonka because it actively showed force feeding whereas with Violet, the inflation seemed accidental rather than intentional.

My questions are: Have you seen this film? Do you know the title? Do you know where I can find it, ie: youtube, etc…?

I would be greatly appreciative of any responses.

Sincerely,

Giacomo

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Kindertrauma Funhouse

June 7th, 2019 · 4 Comments

There are 10 differences between the image above (A) and the image below (B). Can you find them all?

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Godzilla: King of the Monsters

June 6th, 2019 · 4 Comments

Count me in as someone who loved GODZILLA: KING OF THE MONSTERS. I’m so glad I went to see it on the big screen so I could fully get lost inside its whirlpool of mayhem.  There are images in this movie that are so beautiful as if they were religious paintings come to life, and there are moments of true awe that hit like (literal) lightning strikes. My peepers really got a workout and I left the theater feeling like I just experienced a heartwarming reunion with childhood friends. Man, I love them monsters! Godzilla is like a big misunderstood doggy, Ghidora is a devilish badass, Rodan is a mischievous opportunist and Mothra is the sweetest angel who ever lived. It’s as if the quirky denizens of Winnie the Pooh’s Hundred Acre Wood became quarrelsome giants who spit fire and topple buildings. The movie is over two hours long but I kind of wanted to stay forever (even if just to bask in BEAR McCREARY’s incredible score that weaves in past themes (especially good old Mothra’s signature tune) in a gorgeous way).

Of course you do have to suffer through a dozen or so human characters making plans and pointing at computer screens but I’m happy to say I found the normies reasonably compelling and sometimes moving too. I’d probably jump in front of a flying bullet for VERA FARMIGA at this point (she’s nearly up there in the JAMIE LEE CURTIS/SIGOURNEY WEAVER zone now). FARMIGA plays Dr. Emma Russell whose family is dealing with the loss of a child and while ex-hubby Mark (KYLE CHANDLER) and daughter, Madison (STRANGER THING’s MILLIE BOBBY BROWN in her big screen Kristy McNichol-esque debut) are grieving in constructive ways, Dr. Russell has taken the route of toxic self-destruction to a new, global level. There’s a scene of her speeding a vehicle forward with a snarling three-headed Ghidorah snipping at her heals that blew me away as an illustration of a wounded person desperately trying to outrace their inner demons. Her motives are completely insane and I so totally understood them.

It’s crazy that a summer blockbuster stuffed to the gills with disaster and mass destruction could also shine with unabashed adoring love but thanks to director MICHAEL DOUGHERTY (he of the instant classics TRICK ‘R TREAT and KRAMPUS) here we are. There’s so much in this film about how humans interact with nature and creatures that we aren’t capable of fully understanding that really resonated with me. There are several moments when we get to finally feel for Godzilla in a way that I think has always eluded filmmakers before. In one instance returning character, Dr. Ishiro Serizawa (KEN WATANABE) gets to look Godzilla straight in the eye and thank him for what he has meant to him and geez, it’s so lovely.

I’m a little stunned that GODZILLA: KING OF MONSTERS is getting mixed reviews as it offers more than a few sights, sounds and experiences that can not be experienced anywhere else. I’ve enjoyed the previous films in this current franchise (GODZILLA 2014, KONG: SKULL ISLAND) a great deal too but this is the first one that really hit me down deep in the heart. My only complaint is that after seeing the film the title smacks a little of moth erasure. Behind every good lizard is a great moth! Man, I’m so in love with Mothra that the next time I find a hole in my sweater I’m just going to shrug my shoulders and let it go.

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Tags: General Horror